Eleanor Roosevelt – My Day (May 1941)



By Eleanor Roosevelt

May 1, 1941

Oakland, Calif., Wednesday –
Yesterday morning, in Los Angeles, I visited Judge Shontz’s court. It is a court of little people who have claims for sums of money under $30. I found it very interesting sitting beside her listening for a few minutes to their problems.

From there we visited the Assistance League, a really remarkable organization that Mrs. Hancock Banning is the most active and moving force. I saw a day nursery with the children actually at play out of doors and lunch in preparation, a place for the older boys to do craft work and play games out of doors, a library, a girls’ recreation club and a welfare department where people are helped to get jobs and where the placement record is high.

We also visited the Thrift Shop, the Craft Shop, the sewing rooms and the tea room, where women interested in this charity earn much of the money which is given to the support of the other undertakings. It seemed a very busy spot, spread out over quite an area, but full of hope for the betterment of the conditions of the people in that part of the city. This is indicated by the fact that juvenile delinquency has dropped 64% since the establishment of the boys’ and girls’ recreation classes.

We went back to Mrs. Douglas’ in time to see a really remarkable collection of craftwork done by the Mexican-American youngsters in NYA groups. Though weaving and ceramics have been taught for only three months, they would be a credit to workers of much longer experience. Finally, a last visit with young Mrs. James Roosevelt and a very quiet lunch before starting at 2 o’clock to drive to Hanford, California. It was nearly 195 miles and, in spite of gray skies, we had one or two glorious glimpses of fields of wild flowers.

In one place a sea of blue seemed to spread out before us. In another field, yellow and blue seemed to be the dominant colors. I had always heard of the beauty of these wild flowers in spring and, while they tell me I am not seeing them at their best at present, still I am extremely glad to carry away this vision of loveliness.

On our arrival, we drove around the very charming town of Hanford and admired the public buildings, schools and charming tree lined streets with their attractive homes. After the lecture, we said goodbye at Tulare to our kind hosts and took the night train for Oakland, where we are now about to board a plane on our way to Eugene, Oregon.

May 2, 1941

On the train from Eugene, Or. to Portland, Or. –
Yesterday began well because our friend of the Southern Pacific Lines, Mr. Lathrop, invited us to breakfast with him on the train. Our plane was a little late, but we enjoyed the trip. We flew for a time over white covered mountains and saw beautiful mountain peaks emerge around us from their enveloping clouds.

In Medford, Ore., the Twenty-Thirty Club presented me with a box of preserved salad pears, all of very beautiful colors, but a little difficult to carry under one’s arm. I hope, therefore, that my daughter will let us eat them while we are with her.

The drive from Portland to Eugene was very lovely and reminded me of the country back of the Hudson River. The dean of the University of Oregon, Mr. Karl Onthank, his wife and daughter, came to meet us and were most kind and thoughtful.

I enjoyed the evening at the University, as I always do when I have an opportunity of being with young people. It was the students’ evening, and so Mr. Gleeson Payne, the student body president, introduced me. A fine looking boy, and from what the dean told me about him, I felt that the future could hold few insurmountable obstacles for him because he has already met and conquered so many.

There was a short reception after the lecture period. I had an opportunity to discuss various things, including my own article in the the Ladies’ Home Journal, with a group of the girls sitting in front of one of the big fireplaces, where tremendous logs burn.

This morning we left the hotel rather early and went to visit NYA resident centers. The boys’ center is being built largely by the boys themselves, and many of them were at work under excellent foremen. They have a fine vocational school in Eugene functioning in cooperation with the program which Dr. John Studebaker, head of the Federal Bureau of Education, has sponsored. Here boys and girls on NYA, people on WPA, and students, are obtaining re-training. The school runs 24 hours a day and every department is run the way a business or shop would actually function.

We stopped at a girls’ resident NYA house, where everyone seemed happy. It is similar to many others throughout the country and also has a sewing project.

Our train was ten minutes late and we were glad to have even these few minutes, which made it possible for us to see a little bit more before leaving Eugene. Now we are on our way back to Portland.

May 3, 1941

Seattle, Wash., Friday –
Yesterday, on the train, coming into Portland, Ore., a Scotchman and his wife, who were on their way to spend a short vacation in Canada after several years in Government service in Shanghai, China, came in to speak to me. It was evident to them that it was a great relief to get away from some of the experiences they have lived through in China.

We were met at the station in Portland by members of the American Legion, who were sponsoring my lecture, and went directly to the hotel. Until 5:00, we were busy with mail, and then I went down for an hour to meet some of the Legion members and their guests.

There were many familiar faces among the Democrats who came. I was glad to see Mr. David Honeyman and two of the Honeyman girls. Mrs. Honeyman, unfortunately, has been in the East while I have been in the West, so I missed seeing her, much to my regret.

A friend of hers, Mr. Mowry, the composer, came to see me for a few minutes. I also had a short visit from a young man whom I am beginning to look upon almost as an old friend, Richard Neuberger, who is now a member of the Oregon State Legislature.

All afternoon, more or less, I had been listening with one ear for my daughter and son-in-law’s arrival. When I went upstairs after the reception, I was overjoyed to hear their voices in Miss Thompson’s room. We always have more to talk about than there is time to say. We were through dinner and I had to leave for the lecture, and still we practically had to stop in the middle of a sentence.

We made our plane very comfortably and reached Seattle just before midnight. It was like coming home to find ourselves sitting in Mr. and Mrs. Boettiger’s living room, munching apples before we went to bed.

This morning I realized how much children can grow in six months, for Sis and Buzz seem to have changed much since I was here last fall. The greatest change, of course, is in our little 2-year-old, Johnny. Miss Thompson and I have learned not to make too rapid advances, but he was soon playing a game with us from behind the screen. I think we shall be accepted as part of the family before the day is out.

Here we are again spending the morning on mail. Our day is our own with no obligations, which is a very pleasant feeling.

May 5, 1941

Seattle, Sunday –
I have a letter from Mr. Theodore Dreiser in Hollywood, California, telling me that he has been sent some copies of my column which appeared on April 10. In it he says that I stated:

After dinner Mr. Theodore Dreiser showed us some slides of Black Mountain College near Asheville, North Carolina.

I can only infer that this error was made in a few papers. I know it was not made in my own copy, for I have that in my files. The name, of course, was Mr. Theodore Dreier, who teaches at Black Mountain College and is a nephew of a very old friend, Miss Mary Dreier. Mr. Dreiser is troubled because he feels that his following in the country will believe that he is friendly enough to the President or his foreign policy, to come to the White House for any reason whatsoever.

I am sorry, of course, that a typographical error of this kind, even though I am not responsible for it, should have caused Mr. Dreiser such embarrassment. I am taking this opportunity to state very clearly that Mr. Dreiser did not come to the White House and is still opposed to the President and his foreign policy.

Yesterday was my daughter’s birthday and we celebrated by having a completely family day. At breakfast she was given a few presents and then her two eldest children presented her with the nicest possible gift. With the aid of their music teacher, they had each made recordings wishing her a happy birthday and playing two complete pieces on the piano for her.

At noon, to everybody’s joy, we went off on the boat for a picnic lunch. I was told with great enthusiasm, that the cooking would be done by the gentlemen of the family, who would give us fried egg sandwiches. They proved excellent and the sun shone and we had a marvelous time. We returned early enough to play a while with Johnny, so he would not be disappointed. Then we had a birthday dinner with the necessary cake and candles. Thus ended a happy day.

Friday evening, my son-in-law showed Miss Thompson and me some of the movies taken of the inauguration in January and at various times when we have been out here. They will be a wonderful record for the children when they are grown.

Today, Anna has gathered together for me a number of people from the faculties and student bodies of various colleges. They will lunch here and we shall have an opportunity to talk over some of the work of the International Student Service. I have just joined the executive committee of this organization and am very anxious to see the work grow on the campuses in different parts of the country.

May 6, 1941

Seattle, Monday –
About ten colleges and universities of the International Student Service were represented here yesterday at luncheon and stayed with us until nearly 4:00. They agreed that they wished to have a further discussion in preparation for some kind of work next winter. Everyone present felt that greater clarification of the problems of today, through discussion, is one of the needs on the campuses.

We all talked to the President on the telephone Saturday night, even the youngest member of the family managed to say “hello, Grandpa,” and to be really understood. Originally I had thought that, because my husband was away from Washington, he would not be able to talk to us on Anna’s birthday and would have to wait until Sunday. However, he managed his conversation quite as well from Charlottesville, Virginia.

It was fortunate for us because we left at about 5:00 p.m. yesterday and went across the lake on the floating concrete bridge, which always seems to me the most extraordinary engineering feat. Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Donogh,whom we have visited, have a charming house with a lovely view of the water.

Mr. Donogh enjoys really good food. He has arranged a charcoal burner for his own use and we were given the best steaks I have eaten in many a long day. They showed us the outdoor grill where they cook and eat during the summer months. I think they look upon this indoor one as a mere makeshift which makes the winter months possible.

We came home fairly early and took Miss Thompson to her train for Chicago. I think she really likes this trip because for two solid days she can sleep as late in the morning as she wants, with no feeling that I am going to suggest work before she can drink her morning coffee.

If all goes well, I shall reach Chicago an hour before she does. I take it for granted that all will go well, for I have been so fortunate on my last few trips by air. It won’t prevent me, however, from saying a little prayer to the weatherman.

Everyone asks me out here if I don’t prefer this climate to that in the East, and I must say it has many advantages. I have said before that this Northwestern Coast is very like the coast I know so well on the Northeastern shore of our Continent, and quite agree with my children and grandchildren that this is a grand place in which to live. The West is a young man’s country and there is a spirit of freedom in the air, but I am afraid that I am too old to change in my loyalty to my own home on the Hudson River.

Today is a busy day, but I shall have to tell you about it tomorrow.

May 7, 1941

Seattle, Tuesday –
Yesterday was a very interesting day. In the morning we went down to the Boeing Aircraft factory. This was my first view of four-motored bombers. They also make smaller two-motored military aircraft, but I did not see any of them finished. One order of bombers was just completed, and the machines on the floor were there for modernization.

That seems to be one trouble with building military aircraft when a war is going on. In actual use, weaknesses of design or of armament are discovered and inventors try to find new ways of correcting them. This means that machines that have been out for a year, or even less, have to return for drastic changes.

This is a tremendous plant, covering an area which seemed at least a mile long as we walked around it. I was interested to find some women sewing in one section. They still do it better than men.

Our main object in being there yesterday was to attend the graduation of a group of apprentices. Washington has been one of the state that, for some time, has had an apprenticeship council composed of employers, organized labor representatives and a member for the public. This year, the Governor has signed a law giving the state a Director of Apprenticeship.

The apprentice programs have been carried on even during the Depression. Young men work for four years in the shops. Each year they cover a certain amount of work and, at the end, they are skilled mechanics with a knowledge of the whole job. In addition to their shop work, they take four hours a week of related training in the Edison vocational school. They are paid during this period of training; beginning with a minimum of 40¢ an hour, and receiving an increase every six months until they earn the journeyman’s wage. They work 5 days a week, 8 hours a day, and their related training is 4 hours of extra study.

In the evening we went over to the graduation of the building and metal trades apprentices at the Mercer School and saw all the different classes at work. The instruction is all given under expert workmen. The only thing which grieved me was to see so much really excellent work being done, which might be of real use, and which had to be torn up so that the next class could do it over again.

However, someone else must have had my sense of thrift, for they have just begun to build a small house in which each of the trades will do its practice work. The house will then be taken and put on a foundation, and either sold or given for some useful purpose. A new house will then be begun. Since the materials used are all donated, a double purpose will be served. The boys will obtain their experience and someone will have a completed place in which to live.

May 8, 1941

Chicago, Wednesday –
I never leave my family in Seattle without real regret, but yesterday afternoon I had to go. This has been a rather longer visit than usual and we have done more things which were not purely part of a family reunion.

Yesterday morning, before leaving, I went to see some of the National Youth Administration work. Their resident project here is not as yet finished, but they have some defense training similar to that going on in various places. I had some difficulty getting clear in my mind the various types of training which I had seen. That which is being done under the Apprenticeship Council and in collaboration with the Edison Vocational School, is under the Smith-Hughes Act and has nothing to do with defense training.

Defense training is being carried on in three other vocational high schools. As in other places, they must take 50% of the people to be re-trained from the WPA program. I was told there had been some difficulty here because so many of their WPA people never had a skill. The other 50% in this defense training program are either employed and coming in for refresher courses, or young people from NYA who can qualify, or from some other qualified source.

I think it is safe to say that cuts in WPA everywhere in the country are affecting adversely the married or single woman who is the breadwinner for her family. In many cases a really serious condition is being brought about. The whole question of WPA cuts should have some careful revision and consideration. People removed from WPA and who still cannot find work, go on relief, with an increased burden on the locality and a loss of self-respect to the individual.

In addition to this just now, I think there is on the part of many of the women a great sense of injustice. In the case of NYA, the quota everywhere continues to be filled, because all eligible young people were never on NYA in the past.

I have a suggestion in a letter from a woman and it has been running through my mind ever since I read it. She feels that we should start some gigantic projects for saving and processing all kinds of foodstuffs in preparation for feeding a good part of the world someday. I have been wondering if every community should not start the study of what could be done with every kind of waste material.

It will require a great deal of education and much labor, but it might mean that many people who now go without things here in our own country, might have far more than they have ever had before. It seems to me that the study should be done at first, community by community, and then spread out as the need and efficiency methods seem to indicate. This is just an idea, but I hope someone will give it some real thought.

Here I am in Chicago, and I shall spend the morning getting a good rest after the night on the plane.

May 9, 1941

New York, Thursday –
It was nice to meet Miss Thompson again yesterday morning in Chicago. We were both surprised to find the weather really springlike, though I suppose by May 7th we might have expected that.

After a morning spent at the hotel, not quite as peacefully as I had hoped because the telephone rang rather frequently and we found a great deal of mail awaiting us, we went to the WPA Household Training Center at 2:30. This training center for colored girls has done a wonderful piece of work and I feel sure has proven of great value to the community.

At 3:15, we went to the South Side Community Art Center to dedicate their building. From there we made our plane to New York City very comfortably.

Chicago has long been a center of Negro art. Many Negro artists have had a hard time getting their training and have starved as many artists do, even when they have achieved a certain amount of recognition. The Art Center is situated in the old home of Charles Comiskey, who was once a great baseball magnate.

It had become a rooming house before the South Side Community Art Center had bought it a year ago. With the aid of federal money it has been converted to its present purposes. There are classes in drawing, oil and water color painting, poster design, lettering and composition. Gradually the teaching of some of the crafts and other skills will be added.

It was all a most delightful experience and I am happy to have been able to spend this time in Chicago and to assist at these ceremonies.

Now I want to talk to you for a little while on a subject which has long been on my mind, namely; the improvement in our schools of physical education, instruction and guidance in healthful living, a wider recreational use of school facilities and the development of school camps. All these purposes are gathered together in a bill sponsored by Mr. Pius L. Schwert, a member of Congress from the 42nd District from New York State.

He suggests the appropriation of certain sums of money to be distributed to the various states for these purposes. I hope that in New York State this summer, there will be some camps for high school students under the guidance of the school system. I feel that the draft is proving to us that our young people are not receiving proper medical care or adequate diet for the best possible physical development and the schools can do much to improve the situation.

May 10, 1941

Hyde Park, Friday –
Our trip from Chicago to New York City on Wednesday evening was somewhat rough in spots and we passed through a number of electrical storms. As I sat back and watched all the heads of the people in front of me in the plane, I could not help wondering about what goes through everybody’s mind when the light flashes on which says:

Fasten your seat belt.

Those who are not happy in the air must have some uncomfortable minutes wondering if it is going to be rough enough to upset their insides. However, I am always impressed by the good sportsmanship which people show, even when they may be going through their first airplane experience and are wondering whether the plane can stand such violent bumps and shifts in the air. You can usually tell an old-timer, because he will look reassuringly and smilingly at his neighbors when they experience a particularly upsetting motion.

Yesterday, in New York City, I was photographed with the Chinese Consul and an attractive young Chinese girl, who wore the dress which is going to be presented to Madame Chiang Kai-shek. It was made in this country from material of Chinese design. All of these designs have some meaning in Chinese and I think they make very charming materials.

I was also presented with a dress made from one of these designs, which I shall wear with great pleasure during the summer. A percentage of the proceeds from the sales of these materials will go to Chinese relief. Of all the various pins given by the organizations helping different countries, I think the little ones designed by the Chinese Relief Fund are, perhaps, the least conspicuous and the easiest to wear by men and women. I came away with several in different colors, which had been presented to me.

We drove to Hyde Park after an early supper in New York City. For some unknown reason I was particularly wide awake last night, in spite of rather short hours of sleep during the last few days. I finished marking what mail I had and then read to the end of Eric Knight’s novel This Above All.

I think you will find it interesting reading. Parts of it are so painful I could hardly go on, but other parts are very beautifully written. Much of the mental and emotional struggle which the characters go through will be a familiar experience to many men and women in many countries of the world.

The questions that stir the souls and minds of young men and young women today have no easy solutions. One can only hope that out of them will come a determination really to build a better world, no matter what we have to go through in achieving it.

This morning I spoke at the Franklin D. Roosevelt High School and left the young people discussing with experts the possible careers opening up before them.

May 12, 1941

Hyde Park, Sunday –
Since I have been here, I have tried to make up my mind which of the books accumulated during the winter I can pass on to the libraries and high schools in Hyde Park Village. There are certain books that I feel I want to keep indefinitely. However it seems selfish not to pass on a book so that others can read it, if one has enjoyed it and does not want to keep it permanently. Nevertheless, deciding what to keep is always difficult for me.

Since it rained Friday afternoon, it was not so difficult to decide to stay indoors, but yesterday and today the weather was so beautiful that it was a shame not to be out as much as possible. I walked around yesterday morning, looked at every plant and shrub, and was delighted to find that the little bit of carefully tended lawn in front of my porch and Miss Thompson’s porch, really looks like a lawn, for the grass seems to be nice and thick and springy.

All kinds of birds chirp and call to each other in the early morning around my sleeping porch. The robin, whose nest was so near my bathroom window last year that I could never shut it, for fear of disturbing the mother bird, has not returned.

I love spring in the country and at last we have enough rain. Though the President is very anxious to discover whether his young trees have all survived the early spring drought, everything not newly planted seems to be unharmed and to have the most beautiful spring foliage.

Yesterday noon, I went to a well attended meeting held under the auspices of the National Vocational Guidance Association at the Franklin D. Roosevelt High School. A New York University group put on a skit about the “Follies” of guidance. It was most entertaining and I am sure those familiar with the field enjoyed it even more than I did, because some of the references seemed to afford them so much amusement.

From there I went to the lunch of the Dutchess County Democratic Clubs in Poughkeepsie, where Mrs. Charles Tillett, Vice-Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Dean C. Mildred Thompson of Vassar and Miss Marion Dickerman spoke, and a very charming young woman sang.

I missed the first part of Dean Thompson’s speech, but heard all the others and was very happy to see Mrs. Tillett for a few minutes. We were so grateful to her for taking the trouble to come from Charlotte, NC, for this luncheon.

May 13, 1941

New York, Monday –
Saturday evening, I heard the record which Lynn Fontanne made of the poem “The White Cliffs of Dover” by Alice Duer Miller. It is a beautiful recording and anyone who likes the poem will enjoy it.

These records were a gift and together with them came two volumes of Sir Cecil Spring-Rice’s Letters and Friendships which I had been seeking, but which had to turn up in a second-hand book sale. I am not a good person at watching for any particular item. Life becomes hurried and I forget to look, and so I am most grateful to the thoughtful and kind friends who gave me these treasures, which are going to be a continuing joy.

Rather sadly, I left Hyde Park right after lunch and reached New York City in time to go the the broadcasting studio and be present at the National Youth Administration broadcast, which closed American Music Week. At this last concert they sang music by Negro composers. One particularly beautiful song, “Ode To America,” composed by Jules Bledsoe, renowned American singer, was dedicated to the President.

Yesterday morning I went to the big house and enjoyed a chat with my mother-in-law and Ethel, Franklin Jr.'s wife. She has brought their small boy to stay awhile, for she will be more or less on the wing while the destroyer to which Franklin Jr. is assigned moves around.

My mother-in-law was going over speeches for the two broadcasts she made, as she has done in years past on Mother’s Day. There is no one I know who sets greater value on the duties and pleasures of motherhood and who is certainly an appreciative person to speak to other mothers on that day.

A quiet dinner and an evening spent at home after seeing some people immediately after the broadcast.

Today I had several appointments. At noon, I received the France Quand Meme Relief Committee pin from Madame Houdry, president of the committee. From there I went to the luncheon given by Mr. Robert Porterfield of the Barter Theatre.

Here I gave the award to the winner of their annual prize. This year it went to Ethel Barrymore for her performance in The Corn Is Green. I certainly enjoyed the play when I saw it early in the winter, so I paid my tribute to her on this occasion with real warmth and admiration.

Just a week from today, on May 19, Boys’ Club Week will be celebrated throughout the United States. This year marks the 35th anniversary of the founding of boys’ clubs in America. These clubs have meant so much to the youth of our country that I hope every community will show its appreciation to the boys and to those who have worked in the organization and have made it as strong and useful as it is today.

May 14, 1941

Washington, Tuesday –
Yesterday evening, in New York City, Mrs. Henry Goddard Leach called for Mrs. Morgenthau and me to go to the Women’s City Club dinner. It was the 25th anniversary of the founding of the club. I was sorry that my old friend, Mrs. Norman de R. Whitehouse (de small letters space capital R. period), in whose house the idea of a woman’s city club was first discussed, could not be present. But Dr. Josephine Baker, who was among the founders, presided with grace and efficiency.

I did not join the club until my husband returned to New York City in 1920 from Washington, but I have had the good fortune to know many of the original founders. I remember with affection and admiration, Miss Mary Garrett Hay’s leadership in the first days when I became active on the board. I was sorry too that Mrs. Edward Dreier (correct) who was president during most of the years when I worked there, was away and could not be present.

I think the women can be proud of the record of their accomplishments. But, above everything else, it seems to me that they should be encouraged by the fact that they have been able to induce a number of women to take an active part on committees, which are really informing themselves on municipal government.

I was particularly pleased last night to note the youth of many of the chairmen of the committees, who stood up to take their bows. I have always felt that when young people come into an organization, that organization is on a firm foundation and will continue to grow.

The platform for next year was read by the club’s new president, Miss Bartlett. Then Mr. Newbold Morris, who frequently pinch-hits very successfully for the busy and overburdened Mayor of New York City, discussed this platform and gave the point of view of a city official on some of the things which the women suggested.

His talk was excellent and the audience listened attentively. It was a tribute to him and also to the educational work done by the Women’s City Club in the past few years.

Mrs. Morgenthau and I flew to Washington this morning. It was certainly grand to return and be met by so many smiling faces, to find the President feeling much better and our son, Elliott, and his wife, Ruth, still here. In these times, when our children scatter to parts unknown, under orders, even a day or two, or a few hours here and there, make a difference in life. The President started in soon after my arrival with a stream of visitors and I went directly to my press conference.

In a few minutes I shall go to lunch with the ladies of the Senate. So you see, the Washington routine begins again with great rapidity.

You should really consider making these into a single thread. It gets really spammy and can also be difficult to follow.

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I wanted to make it less cluttered.

May 15, 1941

Washington, Wednesday –
Lunching with the ladies of the Senate yesterday was very pleasant. I particularly enjoyed having in front of me a most beautiful centerpiece of magnolia blossoms, white against their dark green leaves. At the ends of the table were vases with white Easter lilies and snapdragons, but it seemed particularly beautiful to me to look into those cup-like magnolia blossoms.

The District of Columbia librarians came yesterday to look at the books which the American Booksellers have presented to the White House library. Then they joined my garden party on the lawn. It was the first garden party we have had this year and an almost perfect day. Now and then the wind would take a lovely lady’s hat and she would have to clutch it, but otherwise it was neither too warm nor too cold.

The Marine Band played delightfully and, in listening to them, I forgot to be tired. The grass was particularly lovely, and so I appreciated the desire of the gardener to keep me moving just a little so the long line of guests would not wear a path across the lawn.

Later, I received the Hungarian Minister and his wife for the first time since their arrival. Then I had guests from California, Dr. and Mrs. Remsen Bird, who came to spend the night. We had a very pleasant dinner and were much interested in seeing some photographs which Mr. Thomas Campbell brought back from his stay in England.

He has also seen my aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. David Gray, in Ireland. It was delightful to receive first hand news of them and to have Mr. Campbell say that he thought Mr. Gray was doing a wonderful job, and that he enjoyed being with them. Mr. Campbell feels, however, that Ireland could be producing more foodstuffs for herself and for others than she is doing at the present time.

This is sad news, for I have heard from other sources that many factories are closing down and there is great unemployment and resultant hardship among the people there. If they could put their energies into intensive agricultural production, therefore, it might make life easier and this would seem a partial answer to their problems.

This morning, I am trying to catch up on what seems like almost an unending amount of mail. There are also a good many things which must be read. The President sounded quite cheerful and very busy this morning, and I think everything is progressing well with him.

May 16, 1941

Washington, Thursday –
Yesterday the Cabinet ladies and I gave our annual picnic luncheon for the ladies of the Senate and were fortunate in having a beautiful day. We recalled last year that several showers disturbed our lunch, but this year the only thing which disturbed us was speculation as to what was the real explanation of Mr. Rudolf Hess.

I surmise that there are few people in this country who have not speculated on that subject during the last few days. The writers of mystery stories must agree that reality has outdistanced almost any plot in fiction.

A number of people came to tea yesterday and in the evening I went to hear Mr. Leopold Stokowski and his All-American Youth Orchestra. The program was beautiful and one could not have wanted a more finished performance. Everyone with me enjoyed every minute of the evening.

After coping for some time now with almost perfectly straight hair, for I wanted to wait as long as possible before having a permanent wave again, I went this morning and spent three hours and a half at the hairdresser. I always feel as though it is a terrible waste of time, but this morning I accomplished much reading, which otherwise would have remained undone on the bench beside my desk. Incidentally, my hair will be easier to deal with for some time to come.

I read one book for the Junior Literary Guild and began a story written by a friend of mine, which I enjoyed very much and which I hope will find a publisher.

Somewhat late and somewhat breathless, I arrived at the luncheon given by the ladies of the 76th Congress. They were so kind about my delay that I recovered very quickly from the apologetic state of mind in which I arrived. I enjoyed not only my neighbors, but the lovely table decorations and the Marine Band’s music.

Afterwards, I went to see the exhibition of watercolors at the National Gallery of Art, which will be open to the public this afternoon. From 10,000 water colors sent in from the United States, Hawaii and the District of Columbia, 300 were picked out for a federal hospital in Louisiana. The variety of subjects is entertaining, and I think the water colors will add immeasurably in color and interest to all the rooms in the hospital.

It is interesting to find that most of the painters exhibiting are under 30 years of age and come from 27 states, Hawaii and the District of Columbia. There are 51 women and 103 men represented. I think everyone will find this exhibition enjoyable.

May 17, 1941

Washington, Friday –
Yesterday afternoon, I had the pleasure of having Madame Ruiz-Guinazu, wife of the Argentine Minister of Foreign Affairs, her two daughters and Madame de Espil, wife of the Argentine Ambassador, have tea with me. The girls are rather sad at having to leave so soon, for they felt they could spend a month with ease in the United States.

Madame Ruiz-Guinazu was fairly exhausted by the amount of sightseeing which they had done, but everything was of great interest to her. She spoke with enthusiasm of the National Gallery and of the beauty of our capital city. Then she told me at length of her interest in the Congressional Library, particularly the collection of books in braille, and the new development of talking books for the blind.

Her son is in charge of this work in the Argentine. Having become blind himself at the age of seventeen, he evidently determined to lead a busy, useful and, therefore, happy life. He has written three books and is leading the way for the whole of South America in the development of opportunities for blind people.

What a wonderful thing it is to use one’s handicaps, not only to enrich one’s own character and personality, but to enrich the lives of others facing the same difficulties.

At 4:30, the Cabinet ladies and I lined up for the reception given to the women executives in the various government departments. We had hoped to have it out of doors, but the sky looked so threatening that we decided it was safer to stay inside.

About 1,750 ladies passed by us in an hour and a half. I am always particularly happy to entertain this group, for I feel they are responsible for much of the good work done in the Government.

My friend, Mrs. Charles Fayerweather, from Lebanon, NY, and her son, John, are staying with me. After a quiet dinner they went out to visit some friends, while I spent the evening working at my desk and finally caught up on the mail. This morning I had a number of appointments, for as soon as I am back in Washington, people appear to remember all sorts of things they had been hoarding until my return.

At 1:00, I am going to lunch with Mr. Edward Bruce, and others of the Commission of Fine Arts, and to see some pieces of sculpture which have been sent in for their latest competition. I always enjoy these expeditions and am amazed at the talent which has been developed and given an opportunity during the last few years.

The sun has come back to us and I am looking forward to a very delightful afternoon. First of all, I shall go to the Shoreham Hotel, where the Women’s National Democratic Club is having its annual spring fete, and then to tea with the Regent and Vice Regents of the Mount Vernon Ladies Association, which is always a rare treat.

May 19, 1941

Washington, Sunday –
Yesterday morning, Mrs. Fayerweather and I drove out to see the horse show, which the Junior League puts on for the benefit of the Children’s Hospital. This is an annual affair and there were more entrants this year than ever before. The morning was given over mainly to classes for young people, and I enjoyed seeing the boys and girls ride.

On our return I found that the senior high school students from Arthurdale, W. Va., had been shown the White House and we went out immediately to lunch under the trees in the garden. I have never seen the garden lovelier than it is this year, and yet everywhere in the East we need rain.

I cannot help wishing for pleasant weather in the midst of the season’s garden parties and I confess it would be very nice if all the rain could come at night. However, we have to welcome it even when it drives us indoors, as it did yesterday afternoon. Instead of having a garden party for the members of the Democratic Women’s Council of Washington, I had an indoor tea!

Before they came, we had a half hour concert given by the chorus of the New York Institute for the Education of the Blind. They sang beautifully and no one could help but be happy that this compensation of music is there when other enjoyments for them are curtailed.

I have saved until the last, a few words which I want to write about the dinner which was held by the Chi Omega National Achievement Award Committee. As I have told you before, they give a gold medal each year to a woman who is outstanding in some particular field.

This year, to my great joy, it was awarded to Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt. Women have had suffrage now for so many years, that it is easy to forget what we owe to the women who fought for our enfranchisement, who persuaded and cajoled and browbeat the gentlemen who held our destinies in their hands.

Several of the women who worked with Mrs. Catt paid tribute to her leadership and told of their own experiences. A very excellent speech was made by Dr. T. V. Smith of the University of Chicago I was happy to be granted the privilege of handing the medal to Mrs. Catt.

I want to say again in this column what I have often said before to both Mrs. Catt and to her friends, she has been an inspiration to all of us and continues to be in these times, when many of us find ourselves obliged to face situations we had hoped were gone forever. Her courage, patience, humor and perennially young outlook, which bows to new conditions and adjusts to them, are perhaps the most helpful things to see in this most confusing world.

A quiet Sunday and this afternoon I am flying over to New York City to go with three friends to the Dean Dixon concert. I return to Washington tomorrow morning.

May 20, 1941

Washington, Monday –
My brother, Major Henry Hooker and I enjoyed the Dean Dixon concert last night very much. It was remarkable that a group, largely made up of amateurs, could be brought together through the conductor’s ability and achieve such a good performance.

A small group of women have been able to finance the purchase of instruments. About forty people drawn from the community, of every race, color and creed, come together in this orchestra without compensation either to the young conductor, Dean Dixon, who is about 26 years old, or to any one of the musicians.

Last night 30 of Mr. Dixon’s pupils at the Juilliard School played with the orchestra. They told me that they give one public performance a year and, in between times, a few benefit performances. They hope to get more opportunities to appear and, of course, as they obtain gifts for the purchase of instruments, they can draw in more people and do better work.

On my way back to Washington this morning, I read Secretary of State Hull’s speech. I must say that I swelled with pride because of the great restraint of expression and firmness of humanitarian interest Secretary Hull so ably expressed. I about thought some of the speeches which I have heard from Germany over the radio, and compared the sentiments expressed by Secretary Hull with those of Mr. Hitler and his subordinates. Our Secretary of State offers freedom and cooperation in a joint program for world betterment, and I feel sure that our own people will heartily endorse everything he says.

I also read two speeches, one of them delivered by John Brophy before the Pennsylvania State Industrial Union Council Convention at Harrisburg, Pa., on April 30. The other was a speech delivered before the convention of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, in Philadelphia, Pa., on January 29, by Charles E. Wilson, President of the General Electric Company.

Both speeches approach the same problem from different angles. But the spirit that lies back of the approach is so similar that one cannot believe that men of this calibre, if they could be multiplied, would not solve our difficulties in the general field of economic conditions, not only as they face us, but as they face the world. In travelling around the country, I felt more and more keenly the need for something which is presented in the Philip Murray plan mentioned by Mr. Brophy and which is suggested by Mr. Wilson in his general survey of future cooperation.

Miss Grace Reavy, President of the New York State Civil Service, lunched with me today, and also a group of students brought by Miss Julia Parker, who comes from Hyde Park and who is teaching school in Baltimore, Maryland.

May 21, 1941

Portland, Maine, Tuesday –
Yesterday afternoon, the Cabinet ladies received with me at a small garden party for the wives of the members of the House of Representatives, and the women members themselves. This is always a very pleasant party and I was delighted to have such a good day.

Then, for a few minutes, I went to the opening of the Soldiers and Sailors’ Club, which the Women’s National Democratic Club is helping to finance as a defense project. It will serve, we hope, as a place of recreation and relaxation for the men in our services who come to this city.

We succeeded, somewhat breathlessly, in catching our plane for New York City, and still somewhat breathlessly, we caught the train for Portland, Maine. Here we had a leisurely breakfast and are shortly starting for Augusta, Maine, by motor, where we are to have the pleasure of lunching with the Governor and Mrs. Sewall.

There is one subject which is troubling me increasingly and which I feel I must talk ever with you. It is perfectly natural that we should be extremely anxious now to keep foreign agents from retarding our defense industries, or from creating dissension among us through their activities. We must find aliens who are here illegally and, in so doing, we must question many people who are entirely innocent of any subversive activity. For that reason I feel that only the highest calibre men, employed by the legally constituted government authorities, should have anything to do with these activities. For the rest, it seems to me if we know anything really suspicious, we have an obligation to report it to the proper government authorities. Our country, however, is made up of people, many of whom have come here recently, but who are either in process of becoming citizens, or who may be citizens already, though of foreign birth or parentage.

They are probably more devoted to the democratic form of government than many of our citizens who have taken their allegiance to democracy for granted. These people must be encouraged to trust and to love their new country and their neighbors. They must be given the same opportunity that the rest of us have to earn a living and to lead their own lives protected by the laws of our land.

I am deeply troubled by certain things that have come to me. For instance, in industries, some people, because their names are Italian or German, or because they or their parents are known to have been born in those countries, are refused employment.

We, in this country, are opposing totalitarian government. We do not like Nazi or Fascist regimes. But we are not opposing the refugees who want to help us make our country safe, nor citizens who have come to us from other lands and who are loyal and good Americans. This demands from us a refusal to be hysterical and an ability to use our powers of observation, but to use them wisely.

May 22, 1941

Washington, Wednesday –
It was beautiful driving through the Maine countryside yesterday. The lilacs are in bloom, the blossoms are all out and there is sparkling blue water on one side and dark green pines on the hill.

There is something about a beautiful Maine day which is hard to match. One forgets it for a while perhaps, but recognizes it immediately when one returns to the State. There will always be a pull on my heartstrings with the first view of the dancing water and glimpses of miles of blue-green tree tops.

Everyone was most kind. Mrs. Charles Donohue, the former Democratic National Committeewoman, met me at the hotel in Portland in the early morning, and it was very pleasant to be greeted so warmly. Later, in Bangor, I met the new Democratic National Committeewoman, Mrs. Hickson. The arrangements there seemed a little formal at first, but as they proceeded I had the feeling of real welcome and close contact with the citizens of Bangor.

We stopped for a few minutes before the statue of Hannibal Hamlin, who was Vice President in President Lincoln’s first administration. President Theodore Roosevelt’s visit to Bangor was recalled. As a matter of fact, I have a distinct recollection of Uncle Ted going to Maine many times on fishing and hunting expeditions, and I am sure it is the country that appealed to him.

My husband knows every inch of the coast and I think there are few parts of Maine that I have not at least driven through at one time or another. The Roosevelt family seems to have some real ties in this border State.

At luncheon with Governor and Mrs. Sewall, I met one or two Washington acquaintances and Mrs. Franklin Johnson, wife of the President of Colby College in Waterville, Maine, where we visited last fall.

On the way to Bangor we were able to drive through and see some of the buildings at the central airport, which the Army is preparing. The buildings are all up, but it looks to me as though it would take quite a little grading around them before the grass grows and makes them look less bare.

The need of rain is apparent and the ground looked baked and hard. While I am hoping that we do not have rain in Washington tomorrow, because of the veterans’ garden party, I would be grateful if we could have it everywhere else!

We took the night train back to Boston, had our breakfast at the Statler Hotel, and I went to see Franklin Jr. at the hospital. He is not a very pretty sight after his automobile accident, but the young heal quickly and I am sure he will be himself in a few days.

We caught the plane for Washington and are now back ready for the late afternoon appointments here.

May 23, 1941

Washington, Thursday –
Yesterday afternoon I shook hands with some two hundred members of the Adult Education Class of Philadelphia, Pa., who had come down to visit their capital. These groups of older people, many of whom are new citizens, are very stirring to me. They have so often been through experiences which make them particularly appreciative of living in the United States, and the Capitol, itself, means a great deal to them.

Afterwards I spent an hour with the regional supervisors of NYA girls’ projects. In the course of going over various projects, I discovered that next Sunday, the 25th, at 3:00 p.m., Mr. Jules Bledsoe and the United Negro Choruses of Washington, DC, are planning to get together in the Sylvan Theatre at the Washington Monument, to sing for the benefit of the citizens of Washington who care to come and sit on the grass and join in the singing, or just listen.

I think this is a wonderful idea and I wish it could be done every Sunday afternoon. I see in it the possibility of drawing in many of the servicemen who are spending their free time here, often without much money to spend and with few places which offer entertainment for the young men on a Sunday afternoon or evening.

I am very sorry that I shall have to be on my way to Arthurdale, W. Va., on Sunday, for I speak at their school commencement on Monday morning. If this were not the case, I should certainly go down and listen to the singing. Perhaps, if I were sure that no one would hear me, I might join in, but I am not very proud of my voice.

In our emphasis on defense projects, I feel it important to remember that girls as well as boys can be fitted for defense work. They, too, must have training in order to earn their livings and live better than they have done in the past. I hope, therefore, that we shall not forget our obligation to girls in any of the government programs.

Last night we held our annual newspaper dance. The President received with me and then he went back to work. I drifted around and had the pleasure of talking to a number of people. The evening was so beautiful that I think everyone enjoyed it. Joe Moss’ orchestra played delightfully all evening.

Today we have the garden party for the veterans, which we have had to organize somewhat differently, since the President and members of the Cabinet have to attend a meeting during the afternoon. They will all greet the men, but will then leave them to their refreshments and the enjoyment of the Marine Band.

May 24, 1941

Washington, Friday –
At the close of the garden party yesterday afternoon, Mr. Charles Taussig met me to talk over some of the things which the advisory committee of the National Youth Administration has been accomplishing during the past few months. We went to the airport where we caught the plane for New York City. There I attended an evening meeting which lasted until well after 11:00.

This morning, Dr. William Neilson and Mr. John Rothschild came to see me in New York to tell me about various travel and study groups which the “Open Road” has organized for the summer. Then I caught a plane to Washington.

Here I found Mlle. Eve Curie, who is staying with us for the night. My first appointment was with two ladies, Mrs. William Hurd Hill and Mrs. Huldah Randell, who had come to talk about living conditions in the southwest part of Washington. They are interested in a community house in that section, for which they are trying to raise money.

They are obliged to leave their present building, which is entirely inadequate to the demands that should be met in this section. Recreation facilities are negligible and housing conditions are very bad. It is an area in which the colored people struggle to live decently and under almost insurmountable difficulties.

I do not know just what can be done to help them, but I feel more and more strongly every day that we should build no more memorials in stone to our great men, or even beautiful government buildings, until we have made it possible for the people who live in this city today, whether they are white or colored, to have decent housing, areas for recreation and adequate school buildings. These seem to me more important than monuments to the men who built the nation.

There is one piece of information that I discovered in Maine which pleased me very much. Ten cities and towns in that State already have the food stamp plan in operation. The entire State has been designated for this program, which means that in the near future, 125,000 needy people in Maine will have the opportunity to increase their food consumption through the use of the free blue surplus stamps.

This is an important step in long range national defense. Our nutrition problems have been great and we are only just beginning to understand that the Government must assist people from the economic and educational standpoint, in order that we may remedy some of the defects which we now know exist in the feeding of our children.

May 26, 1941

Washington, Sunday –
Friday afternoon a sudden shower with a high wind played havoc with the annual party given by the Community Chest. All the agencies join in to educate their subscribers, so that they will really appreciate the work that is being done. The tents blew down and, had the public turned up in spite of the rain, there would have been little left to see. But the children received their refreshments and tumbled about in the rain, so the party for them was a success.

Mrs. Glover did not seem too depressed, for I think one of her main objectives in giving her place for this annual “fiesta” is to see that the young folks have a good time. I only stayed a very few minutes and then came back to have a few people join me for dinner. Then I worked on the mail until the early hours of the morning.

Yesterday morning I rode for a short time, and then we had an almost international luncheon. Madame Lily Rona, a Viennese sculptress, came to Washington and brought the bust which she had made as a gift for me last winter of our son, Franklin Jr. I was glad to have the opportunity to thank her again and to place it where she would approve of the lighting.

Mlle. Eve Curie was with us and Madame Aimee De Ramos Mejía from the Argentine. The latter is a freelance feature writer, her principal paper being La Nacion. She is gathering material and will eventually write a book about her travels throughout this country. She hopes to interpret for her people, the Americans and the life she is coming to understand. Later she will write a book interpreting the life of the Argentine to us here in the United States.

Madame Mejia seems to like us and to find some things to praise. We all know that it is easy to find shortcomings in any nation, but it is more constructive, perhaps, to look for the virtues, as she is doing.

In the afternoon, I went to the Pan-American Building to see some Bolivian sculptures by Marina Núñez del Prado. Most of her subjects are taken from the Indians of her country. She uses wood and terra-cotta as mediums. I particularly liked two small heads, one of a boy and one of a girl, but she has many groups which express motion in an extraordinary way and I think everything she does shows strength.

We had a fairly large group at dinner and for the evening, since everyone who is leaving for Arthurdale, W. Va., with me this morning had to arrive last night.

I noticed in the newspapers yesterday morning, that this is “Buy British Week.” I hope all of us who are able to do so will take advantage of the exhibitions in the various shops and purchase some of the things which, in spite of their colossal defense effort, the English are producing and selling over here.

May 27, 1941

Reedsville, W. Va., Monday –
We left the White House yesterday morning at 9:00. At first, the sun was hidden and it looked as if we would get hazy views. Gradually the sun came out and the country through we crossed looked beautifully green. The laurel was out and, in one or two places, I saw it blooming really abundantly.

Incidentally, the magnolia tree planted by Andrew Jackson, which I look down on from my sitting room windows in the White House has just begun to flower. Several large white blossoms have opened and by the time I return on Tuesday, I expect to rejoice in its full beauty. I look forward to it every year, for these great white cups send up a faint perfume. If anything would inspire me to write a poem, their flowering would do so.

As usual, we stopped for lunch at the hotel in Romney, West Virginia. Then Mrs. Morgenthau and I left the rest of the party and motored up to Cumberland, Md., to see Mrs. Byron, who is running for Congress. I hope she will be elected, for she will be the first woman to hold that office from the State of Maryland.

I think, of course, that women should be elected not because their husbands have held office, but because they are fitted to do certain work. I feel sure that, in Mrs. Byron’s case, her ability will soon be proved.

By the time we returned to Romney, the rest of our party had finished lunch and had started for Arthurdale, which they reached some time before we did. I do not think I drove my fastest, because this is my first long drive of the year and I am always a cautious person.

I was reminded, as we went along, of my conversation with Franklin Jr. last night. I telephoned him to find out when, after his automobile accident, he was going to be able to rejoin the destroyer to which he is assigned. He told me he hoped he could go aboard today, if his ship was still in port. Otherwise, he will have to await her return. Knowing that he would be driving to Newport, RI, today, I urged him to be careful. His response was:

I feel like a timid old lady.

This is a perfect description of me.

After supper here at the Arthurdale Inn, Mrs. Morgenthau, Mr. Pickett and I went over to the Arthurdale Advisory Committee meeting. Mr. Morris Ernst went along as an interested observer. The most encouraging thing was to find that more people here are earning better wages.

We start early this day to see the project and arrive there by 8:30. I shall tell you all the details tomorrow.

May 28, 1941

Washington, Tuesday –
Our first visit yesterday morning was to the NYA shops in Arthurdale. This resident project has 60 boys, drawn in large part from the four nearby counties in West Virginia. They are receiving training in welding, mechanics, woodworking and agriculture. Their regular training as cooks is useful, for it has made so many boys who have been in NYA and CCC camps valuable in the Army.

For maximum efficiency, this project should have 90 or 100 boys. This will soon be possible, for the damage done by the fire which burned out their mess hall is almost a thing of the past. A few more days to put on paint, linoleum and a door or two; and the mess hall will again be ready to use and they can take in their full quota of boys.

These are remarkably nice looking lads. They live in separate little houses, about 10 to a house, and assume all responsibility for their own behavior and discipline. It has worked out well, for out of 84 boys, only two have had to be dismissed for disciplinary reasons.

We looked in at the furniture factory and the health center, and then attended the graduation ceremonies at the high school. Before lunch, we went to visit Mr. and Mrs. John Mason. These two old grandparents have a bright little boy, one of their grandsons, living with them. For a year the grandmother has been ill and the boy, who is a Scout, came up to me at the commencement exercises and asked if I would not stop to see her, she had been ill so long.

She told me she did not know how she could get on without this young grandson to help his grandfather to do the work, even though her daughter and a neighbor came in four days a week to keep the house clean. Her great worry is that the house does not look as neat and tidy as when she could take care of it herself.

We lunched with the school faculty at the inn and then drove over to Scott’s Run. The community house there needs an addition and they tell me it is busy almost all the time when the children are not in school. There is a great interest too, in a summer camp for children. All of them would like to go if money could be found to finance more little housing units and to support the camp over a longer period.

We drove from there over a new road, Route No. 92, back to Route No. 50, and turned off at Mt. Storm for Petersburg and Moorefield, West Virginia. It was one of the most beautiful drives I have taken anywhere in this country. We spent last night in a most delightful home called “The Meadows,” just outside of Moorefield on the road to Romney. Somehow they managed to take in all our large party of ten and to make us very comfortable. Congressman Randolph was with us most of the day yesterday. I am back in the White House with the usual number of appointments and two days’ mail with which to catch up.

May 29, 1941

Washington, Wednesday –
The flags of all the Americas decorated one end of the East Room of the White House and were draped over the room’s main door. It gave me a curious feeling to sit there and watch the President at his desk, faced by all the microphones.

I felt as though all the newspaper photographers in the world were grinding and clicking in front of him. The atmosphere in the room was one of suppressed and intense excitement. Diplomats are trained to observe the amenities, no matter what they feel, but last night everybody’s face showed some emotion as the evening progressed.

I felt strangely detached, as though I were outside, a part of the general public. I represented no nation, I carried no responsibility, except the responsibility of being a citizen of the United States of America. Then I looked at the President, facing representatives of all the Central and South American countries, Mexico and Canada. Like an oncoming wave, the thought rolled over me:

What a weight of responsibility this one man at the desk, facing the rest of the people, has to carry. Not just for this hemisphere alone, but for the world as a whole! Great Britain can be gallant beyond belief, China can suffer and defend herself in equally heroic fashion, but in the end, the decisive factor in this whole business may perhaps be the solidarity of the Hemisphere and, of necessity, the President of the United States must give that solidarity its leadership!

If we all preserve our freedom, it must be accomplished because we believe in each other, because we want to go forward with the democratic processes, no matter how far short we may be today of perfection. We can only do this if we work together.

Then the President began to speak. For three-quarters of an hour he told us what conditions existed, what obligations lay before us and, finally, what his present step to meet those obligations was to be. More must follow, and day by day each one of us is going to realize that his life is changing, that he has an obligation to perform.

In my capacity of objective citizen, sitting in the gathering last night, I felt that I wanted to accept my responsibility and do my particular job, whatever it might be, to the extent of my ability. I think that will be the answer of every individual citizen of the United States, for when all is said and done, it is our freedom to progress that makes us all want to live and to go on.

After the speech was over, we went out to the porch and the rose garden. The Marimba Orchestra, sent especially for this occasion by the President of Guatemala, General Jorge Ubico, played beautifully under the magnolia trees.

After our guests had departed, we, who were in the house, went into the Monroe Room, to listen to Mr. Irving Berlin sing two of his new songs, as well as some of his old songs.

I caught the 2:00 a.m. train for New York City. After seeing two or three people this morning, I attended a two hour meeting of the United States Committee for the Care of European Children, and then took a 1:00 plane back to Washington. In a few minutes I shall be at the National Nutrition Conference for Defense.

May 30, 1941

Washington, Thursday –
The closing session of the National Nutrition Conference for Defense, yesterday afternoon, was most interesting to me. I heard Dr. Thomas Parran, of the United States Public Health Service, speak, and Mr. M. L. Wilson, Director of Extension Work in the Department of Agriculture, present the recommendations which came as a result of the various group meetings and from the conference as a whole.

This seems to me to have been a very valuable meeting. It brought together not only the people, like the home economic experts who have studied nutrition for years, but the educators, doctors, parent-teacher groups, business and professional women et cetera. All possible groups must be interested if a program of education is really to be carried on throughout the country.

I returned to the White House to see a number of people at tea, and to shake hands with the little Girl Scout, Beatrice Vlach, and another very charming young girl, Dorothea Bock, both of them winners in contests which provided as a prize a trip to Washington, DC.

In the evening, I went to my local Newspaper Guild meeting. Then I found a basket of mail awaiting me, but even with this to do, I did not have to sit up very late. It is becoming easier to get through the work, though I must say the days seem to be filled. I don’t believe that the time will ever come in Washington when we can sit down and say:

There is nothing left which we ought to do.

This morning, I started off very early after saying goodbye to Miss Flora Rose, who is going up to Cornell after her trip across the Continent from California to attend the Nutrition Conference here.

I reached Catholic University a little after 9:00, thinking that I was going to see a nursery school. After wandering around for some little time, I discovered a “nursing school” and had the pleasure of talking about their course for a few minutes. Eventually I found what they had really wanted me to see! A group from Catholic University has taken a small house, where they are running a nursery school, a boys club, and a sewing class for adolescent girls.

The expense is borne by some of those working in the sociology courses, who deny themselves in order to carry on this work. It is, perhaps, the most valuable kind of education, because there is nothing as valuable as actual contact with problems and an effort to work them out in a practical way. A number of these small units are operating separately, instead of working in one large center, which is a somewhat novel experiment here.

After a few appointments this afternoon, Miss Thompson and I are going to fly to New York and drive up to Hyde Park. We arrive there a little later than my husband, who has just left by train.

May 31, 1941

Hyde Park, NY, Friday –
We arrived here last night just 15 minutes after my husband reached home, which shows that there are some advantages to flying, for I left Washington three hours later than he did! He insists, however, that he accomplished a great deal more work on the way, and I haven’t a doubt that is true.

Miss Thompson and I motored up from LaGuardia Field, and it was quite evident that a holiday crowd was wending its way up the Parkway. We passed one accident, but no one seemed to be seriously hurt. On the whole, I thought the driving was fairly careful, though a few cars whizzed past me at a pretty rapid rate of speed.

I see that Secretary Ickes is suggesting that we have gasless Sundays and universal daylight saving, thereby saving power. The gasless Sundays and less rapid driving might not only save gas and rubber, but a considerable number of human lives. The power, however, if it means fewer lights, will be hard on me, because I have acquired the bad habit of working late at night. When I don’t do that, the temptation to read is hard to resist.

A young crescent moon added to the beauty of our drive last night. Though there was no such heavy scent of honeysuckle as greeted us along the Virginia roads last week, the air was filled with country smells and country sounds and I enjoyed every mile of the drive. Today is a beautiful day, so much cooler than Washington that I am almost chilly.

This is not just a holiday, but a day on which we pay particular honor to those who died serving their country in the years gone by. The events of the present time give the day a special significance.

I have often said that I wished we could celebrate on this day, not only our military heroes, but those who served their country in other ways during times of peace. It is, perhaps, harder to keep the spirit of self-sacrifice alive when no great crisis confronts us. A crisis is with us again, however, and I feel sure that all our people will face inconveniences and even sacrifices with a steadfast spirit.

It is often much harder to live than to die, but if you must voluntarily risk death, the cause is important. I do not feel that the sacrifice of those who fought for democracy and believed they would end war in 1918, was in vain. What they stood for awakened in a great many people a new conscience about the meaning of democracy.

They did not, however, reach enough people to prevent the recurrence of some of the things which they hoped to eliminate from human life forever. I hope that the acceptance of responsibility by more people may, perhaps, achieve the ultimate aim for which many lives have been given in the past.